Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Mess of Pottage/Pot of Message!

I made some soup today - it was Bob's turn to host the monthly "Local Clergy Lunch". They meet regularly to share news, pray and generally encourage each other. I usually disappear to the kitchen, eat my lunch by myself, and do the crossword! By tradition, they always have a fairly simple meal - soup, bread, cheese, and fruit.

Last time they came, I combined cans of "Sainsbury's Basics" stuff with better quality cans - and it worked out at around £3.55 for 4.5pints/2.4 litres. The 'basics' tastes thin - and using all 'posh' is a bit pricey!

cranks This time, starting from scratch, I modified two recipes from my ancient Cranks Book, which Bob gave me in 1985.

The results were surprisingly good [and the Revs all seem to have had second helpings - there's only just enough left for us two to have some for lunch tomorrow!!]

Here's what I did...

tomato soup TOMATO SOUP

  • 2 cans of tomatoes [peeled, or chopped]
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Small potato, chopped
  • Splash of oil
  • Garlic Clove, [peeled and chopped]
  • 2 tbsp [heaped] dried milk powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp dried herbs [or a few fresh ones chopped]
  • ½tsp of bouillon powder
  • 1tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper
  1. Empty the cans of tomatoes into a sieve over a large jug, allow to drain, pushing tomatoes with wooden spoon to extract most of the liquid.
  2. Saute the onion briefly in the oil in a large saucepan
  3. Add tomatoes, potato, garlic, herbs, puree to pan
  4. Make up liquid in the jug to 45 floz/1.2 litres, stir in milk powder. Pour over veg in pan. Add sugar, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to boil, simmer for 30 minutes [covered].
  6. Cool a little, and then liquidise in blender.
  7. Reheat gently in pan to serve.

This cost 90p to make. Equivalent cost of JS Basics tomato soup 87p, and Covent Garden Tomato Soup £3.98

CARROT POTAGEcarrot soup

  • 1lb carrots chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 medium potato chopped
  • splash of oil
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • ½tsp bouillon powder
  • salt and pepper
  1. Saute onion briefly in the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add all other ingredients
  3. Bring to boil, stirring
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes [covered]
  5. Cool a little, and then liquidise in blender
  6. Reheat gently in pan to serve.

This cost only 65p to make. Equivalent cost of JS Basics vegetable soup 87p, and Covent Garden Carrot and Coriander Soup £3.98.

TOTAL COST OF SOUPS £1.55 - saving of between 39p [cheapest] or £2 [what I spent last time] and £6.41 [premium quality]- and the taste was definitely superior to the basics or the blended, and the consistency was thick and creamy, not at all watery.

In the afternoon, I continued being thrifty by going to buy 2 month's worth of dog food, which is on offer today [I have worked out that the offer comes up every about eight weeks - so this way I never seem to have to pay full price] So Charlie will be well fed too!


  1. Sounds scrummy. I do a variety of 'make it up as I go along' soups for our Advent/Lent prayer meetings which always go down really well.

    Two really easy ones I've done are tomato and lentil (a few cans (2 to 3) of 'basics' tomatoes with 500g of lentils (JS ones don't need soaking, yea!)and a couple of litres of vegetable stock, cook to death in slow cooker - and probably need to thin down with water or milk - serves at least a dozen) and carrot and coriander (a big bag of 'basics' carrots roughly chopped,a couple of onions likewise, some crushed coriander seeds (teaspoon or two) and a couple of litres of vegetable stock. Slow cooker overnight, liquidise and serve to a dozen or more hungry folk. Again may need to thin down, can add fresh coriander before serving if you want to be posh). In both cases I leave it for guests to season to their taste (lots of my wrinklies add heaps of salt anyway)

    Another good standby is "roasted dead vegetable" - clear out those sad carrots, spuds, parsnips, onions, and fresh tomatoes etc. at the back/bottom of the fridge/cupboard/basket. Chop hard veg into chunks/slices and roast at a high heat (180 - 200) for around 40 minutes with a very little oil. Then lob into trusty slow cooker with vegetable stock overnight (do you see the pattern here?!), blitz in liquidiser and it comes up proper posh. In fact, I am working my way through a vat of it this week as well as freezing some.

    So there you go, more HMF recipes for the clergy!!

  2. Oh, you're so thrifty!

    We like a "dressed up" version of tomato soup around our house too. I buy a couple of cans of Condensed Tomato Soup (low sodium version) and prepare it as follows:

    Place the two cans of condensed soup into a large pot. Add about one and one half cans 1% milk (use the empty soup cans to measure the milk), 2 tbsp. butter, dash garlic powder, dash ground red pepper, pinch of sugar, tiny pinch of salt, and a generous sprinkle of dried basil. Bring to a slow gentle boil, simmer for a few minutes and serve. We often have a simple sandwich with this and it's a quick easy meal!

    I'd love to try your Carrot Potage recipe but I'm not sure I can find Marmite over here (US). Can you suggest a substitute?


  3. Sounds delicious. Homemade soup is so much more filling and tasty than out of a can.

  4. Teresa- Do you have Bovril or Vegemite in the US?? You could also use Worcestershire Sauce probably.
    Catriona - love your soup ideas too. "Roasted Dead Vegetable" is a great name. That would be similar to the one our family calls "Fridge scrape"!
    Thanks for the comments x

  5. Hi!!
    I had NO idea that you could use marmite in cooking! Being from the States, I am not one to love (or even like!) marmite, but have friends from England who HAVE to have it spread (thinly, of course) on their toast each morning. I don't care for it a bit, but I am sure it makes a wonderful taste in soups!! I think I will have to try this!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Mrs. U

  6. Hi! Marmite is BRILLIANT for adding a rich savoury taste to soups and casseroles -as well as being wonderful on toast. Blessings x

  7. I'll try the Worcestershire as a sub. By the way, what IS Marmite made of anyway? :-)


  8. Marmite is a yeast extract, and has a salty savoury taste. It is a by-product of the brewing/beermaking industry. It was discovered in germany in 1866, but has been produced commercially in Britain since 1902. It contains 5 types of B Vitamin and is Very Healthy. In Missouri, USA there is a Marmite Museum!!
    So now you know!!

  9. A Marmite museum in the US?!? I would never have believed it! I do remember that when we lived in Nottingham our family did not use Marmite. I don't think my parents particularly liked it - hence me not knowing what it tastes like. I may be able to find it at one of the large supermarkets next time I venture out of the countryside and into a city - they often stock various European imports. Thank you for the info.... I'll be on the lookout for Marmite from now on!


Always glad to hear from you - thanks for stopping by!
I am blocking anonymous comments now, due to excessive spam!